By Alanna Schubach
By Laura Shunk
By Zachary Feldman
By Zachary Feldman
By Zachary Feldman
By Scarlett Lindeman
By Laura Shunk
By Zachary Feldman
In the city's dining jungle, these beasts are the scariest
Through blogging, social media, and the rise of foodism, we've created a monster of a restaurant industry here in New York City. Unfortunately, that same momentum has spawned an equally scary rise in unsavory characters. Presenting the 10 worst people in NYC restaurants.
10. The Cancer-Curing Chef
He doesn't just run a restaurant. He oversees an "experience," an "exhibition," a "voyage." Every menu description proclaims his deep commitment to the locavore cause. He powers his stove by the wind of his own monologues, and tithes to the church of Michael Pollan. His food is of global importance.
He is the Most Virtuous Chef in the World.
You will know him by his server, who's forced to offer play-by-construction of each miracle that leaves the kitchen. "The chef preserved the tears of his first child and turned them into a life-enhancing salt, which he sprinkled on this beet to bring out the youthful essence of the true, Platonic meaning of the word 'beet.' By way of juxtaposition, he baked it in the oven with a bit of brick from the pyramids so that the tension of the Jews who carried that stone would be imparted into the dish."
9. The Bitchy Hostess
She's the icy queen in five-inch stilettos with the presence of a feral cat. Her eyes dart over you, simultaneously lazy and searching, as if deciding whether you're worth the effort to attack. "Reservation?" she'll challenge, concluding that you're not important.
Your self-esteem shrivels like a neglected tomato. You give your name, wondering if you should be here at all. "Your table isn't ready yet," she declares. Then she falls silent, clacking away at her computer. What, exactly, is she typing? Your name over and over?
She won't look at you again, not even when the mood moves her to beckon you to your seat. You study the wine list forlornly, wondering if everyone knows you're about to order the second-cheapest bottle. Her message: This is a club to which you don't belong.
8. The Waiter Who Disappears with the Check
We may have lingered over our coffees, but now we're ready to leave. Each minute has slowed to a glacial pace—pre-global-warming glacial, that is—and it's only getting worse with every attempt to make eye contact with him so he'll bring us the check.
Where is the urgency he possessed when he was cajoling us to order another drink? Why has he disappeared into the kitchen? Is there a craps game back there? And why is no other server capable of hitting the print button at this moment?
7. The Painfully Slow Cocktologist
He wants to dress like a 19th-century newsie and grow a hideous handlebar mustache? Fine. Name his cocktails for clichéd literary characters, marginally obscure song lyrics, or overused proverbs? Go right ahead. Make his own bitters from foraged bark and cut his own block of ice? Sure.
But if he takes longer than three minutes to deliver our drink on a slow night (we'll give him five on a busy one), he deserves to have his bartender title rescinded, reclaimable only after he's done penance in a greasy bar serving nothing but Grey Goose and diet tonics to coked-up calorie-counters.
6. The Trophy Collector
You may never actually have a meal with a trophy collector, since simply choosing a restaurant is an exhausting trial measured in days. After all, each invitation to dine out with this woman is a chance for her to inflate her self-esteem by dropping opinions about the new spots in town.
"I haven't done Alder, Charlie Bird, or the new Ippudo," she'll write in an e-mail, naming only spots approved by the most recent Eater Heat Map or Grub Street Power Rankings. If you counter with a different restaurant, you're setting yourself up for a soul-sucking spiral; any suggestion you make will be checked against food blogs and Yelp. Because if it hasn't been written about, it's not worth going to.
If you despondently give in to a trophy-collector pick and actually make it through the door of an approved eatery, your dinner conversation will consist of a prolonged comparison of where you have eaten recently, a game of one-upmanship that starts with recent blog heavy-hitters, continues into places where someone knows someone, and ends with the ultimate trump card: an Outer-Borough Voyage, probably to Queens.
5. The Late Joiner
Let's all swallow, for a moment, our collective rage over the absurdity of no-reservations policies in a city teeming with people dying to get into the same handful of restaurants. Let us focus instead on the friend who's persistently late, the person who strolls up cheerfully after we've already told the feral hostess cat that no, our group is not complete. She shook her head and gave our table to someone else, forcing us to the back of the three-hour queue while we fought back tears of hanger (hunger + anger).
4. The Line-Standing Techno-Narcissist
Caffeine-starved, you take your place in the coffee line. That's when you notice the person in front of you, thumbs jabbing furiously at her phone while a blue glow illuminates her unblinking eyes.
She doesn't budge when the line moves forward. You step toward her, letting your hot breath ripple the tiny hairs on her permanently craned neck. She finally ambles up to the "order here" sign and, mid-text, gazes at the menu, completely uncertain of what she wants. "Um, latte?" she says, after the people behind her have gnashed their teeth enough to cause a spike in dentistry revenue.
"No, cappuccino. Oh, one of those frozen drinks, maybe. What do you have?"
3. People Who Refuse to Split Evenly
We don't have a lot of sympathy for servers who insist that they simply cannot split your check more than two ways (most server-station software makes splitting idiot-proof). But the enemy of our enemy becomes our friend when the asshole we're dining with insists on parsing the bill by what each person ordered, instead of splitting equally.
What are you saving here? Fourteen cents? Five dollars? What is $5 among friends? It's basically worth the entire fabric of our relationship if you've forced everyone to endure an extra 10 minutes of awkward check-settling only to tell your server, "Put $14.33 on this card, $16.12 on that one, $12.72 on this third one, and the rest is cash." Is our friendship worth it to you?
2. People Who Round Down What They Owe
If you absolutely must force everyone to tally their individual orders, the rules of paying for your portion go as follows: Add up your meal, including your drinks, appetizer, and the $8 bacon supplement, and round up to the nearest dollar.
Add your appropriate share of the tax (don't get out the calculator—if there are eight of you and tax is $8, you owe $1) and then round up to the nearest dollar. Tip generously on your post-tax total and round up to the nearest dollar. Then throw in a buck or three to be sure you're not stiffing someone.
If you consistently round down, your friends know it. And every time they go to dinner with you (which, hopefully, isn't very often), they're spending the last minutes of your interaction trying to microwave your insides with the rage shooting from their eyeballs.
1. The Blogger
Of all vile beings, we might be the worst. You can spot us from a mile away, waxing annoying on how this restaurant stacks up against all the other restaurants we've visited recently. We usually arrive late due to our false sense of entitlement, believing no reservation rule applies to us. We even force everyone in our party to pay their individual share because we want to expense our own receipt.
The worst of all? We know we're assholes. But it's our job, so it doesn't matter. Right?
Laura, my advice to you is simple. Stay out of restaurants and make yourself and everyone around you very happy!!
I appreciate the thought and work put into this article, but I'm a bit hung up on #3. Only an elitist rich asshole would say this, because he or she clearly has never experienced life on a tight budget. Most of the time, us MOST AMERICANS can't even go out to dinner. Then, on the rare occasions we decide to make an exception (because we're sick of missing out, sick of not being able to hang out with friends, etc.) and decide to go for it, and then order sparingly and don't get any drinks, a pompous dickhead like you makes us pay for everyone else's shit — and meanwhile, everyone else can afford to pay for what they ordered. Get your head out of your ass and instead of making fun of people who have less than you, get some gratitude and get some compassion. And, pro tip: if you keep equating money with friendship (as in, "Is our friendship worth it to you?"), you're gonna have a bad time.
This article doesn’t surprise me at all. I used to work as a host at a restaurant a few blocks away from the village voice offices, two guys walked in and decided to seat themselves, when I followed them to try to great and seat them they waved me off saying “We’re just going to take a seat, we’re your neighbors from the village voice.” They maybe ordered a coffee then lingered for an hour, constantly dismissing the server who was checking up on the table to see if they wanted anything else. Then they came up to the host stand in a huff saying their server had disappeared and that they were in a rush to leave, so I had to leave the host stand to find their server for them. Jerk, douche behavior, the worst part of the article is that they think acting like that is cute.
You left off the worst of the lot: "the complainer," a snotty, entitled fellow diner who didn't get served exactly what/how they expected.
This article must have been written by someone who has never worked a single minute in the hospitality industry as it definitely favors the customer.
Any of us who have worked in the industry know who the real #1 "Worst People" in a restaurant are: The Table Who Can't Be Bothered To Acknowledge The Fact That They Are In A Restaurant, Not On A Park Bench, Living Room Sofa or Other Private Banal Place For Private Chatter.
You know the type as soon as you attempt to greet them and they snap back: "Umm. Can we have a minute?!?" Whoa! Sorry. I didn't realize welcoming you to the public place in which you have volunteered to come to and perhaps offering you a beverage would lead to such ire! And this is only the beginning. Any attempt to check on the table is met with silence. You could literally climb on top of the table and Riverdance and they'd still ignore you, leaning forward, captivated in their banal, idiotic conversations. These are the same people who camp out for hours, tying up tables long after they've finished ordering, making other customers wait longer, and keeping the server from making more money on said other customers. And these are also the SAME people who want to complain the "server has disappeared with the check." We haven't disappeared. We just gave up on you EVER leaving or acting like a civilized human being who is aware of how to conduct his or herself when dining out in public. We actually tried to drop your check twice and you ignored us, so we kept moving and provided great service to the tables that actually want it.
The point is, these people are the worst. They ruin the pace of service for everyone, bring unnecessary attitudes into otherwise pleasant establishments (if you ever deal with a hyper-annoyed server, it's probably because they've been dealing with assholes like this all day) and then have the nerve to act inconvenienced or intruded upon by their server trying to do their job.
There are SO many worse things in a restaurant than what you have written for #10. I get that a lot of people do not understand the creative sometimes eccentric minds of chefs and the experience they want to give their patrons but it's a pretty easy situation to avoid. Don't dine at such a restaurant.
n. 11 - The grown man who thinks that is cool to escape without paying the bill an tipping the waiter
I never worry about the "slow check" waiter... if he doesnt give me the check when I ask for it... I just head for the door... if he doesnt get it to me in time... the meal is free...
In reference to #2 and 3... people who order the most expensive things on the menu, drink big and then want everyone to split equally.
My favorite worst customers: The idiots who insist on conducting cellphone conversations at eye-watering decibel levels, cheerfully oblivious to the stinkeyes they get from adjoining diners, the servers and their own dinner companions. If you are: The President, a world renowned surgeon awaiting a transplantable organ or an investigative reporter pinning down a hot scoop, you're excused. Although I'd still expect greater circumspection. Otherwise, turn your damn phone OFF during dinner!
Can someone catalog the worst customers now? Because I'm sure a lot of the readers probably fit the bill.
@shannon87nyc I agree with you- although I might have used softer language. But as someone who rarely drinks and when, just one glass…going out and splitting with people who order several bottles of wine or cocktails can add up to paying $20 or more over what you thought you were buying. So, you are really right. Thank you for speaking up! I feel also when people do that that they are the ones not being true friends at all.
@James McAllen Wow. You sound like a great guy. I hope you never dine at the restaurant I work at, James McAllen, because I have no problem chasing your cheap ass down the street to get my money.
@Berto Or young men, who also enjoy the sounds of their own voices too much